This is the critical time, the time when those who cannot hold on any longer have fallen off their New Year’s resolutions track. That’s most of us. The best of intentions, articulated amid holiday cheers, have a way of trailing off in the cold light of January and February.
If you are among those committed few who are going strong and plowing ahead, congratulations. If, however, you are like the rest of us, weak but still wishful, I have some thoughts on the subject of resolutions. Statistics tell us that by Valentine’s Day, 80 percent of people who would like to improve their lives have given up. What we are not told is how many start again. Really, it not necessary for resolutions only to be made beneath mistletoe. If we peter out, we can pick ourselves up and begin anew. The pressure is off. And here are some tricks to sticking with it this time.
Don’t make unrealistic resolutions that are overwhelming. Want to lose 30 pounds? Losing weight is a common idea, but it is hard to break eating habits and it is a slow process. However, breaking the 30 pounds into smaller goals, like 1 pound a week, is doable. And a small success encourages endurance.
Try to find a buddy to lose weight with, even going to the gym together. Whatever your goal is, it’s easier with support from someone else and it surely is more fun. It’s harder to go it alone.
Some people might prefer to keep their resolutions private, in which case the buddy idea doesn’t work. There are some good reasons for privacy. Making public commitments can create too much pressure.
Or maybe you don’t want others to know how bad things really are and how much you need improving — if it isn’t already obvious. And then there are those who try to sabotage you, for whatever reason. It’s not pretty, but such urges exist in humans. Perhaps out of competitive motives or fear, you will be a different person and your adversaries won’t be worthy of you.
Attempt to make resolutions fun. Fix on what you will do or how you will feel once your goal is realized. The drudgery of getting there is taking you ever closer to your ideal.
Making resolutions is a little like making a to-do list. Try to limit the number to the two most important items at most. Otherwise life gets too confusing and energy is dissipated in different directions.
Finally, if you give up, start again. I have. When resolutions become habits, they will carry us to our goal. And habits are much easier to practice than that heavy, multisyllabic word, “resolutions.”